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Our 2018 Partnership Luncheon

We held our 6th Annual Partnership Luncheon on March 21 at the City Club in Lima. Each year we hold this luncheon in March, during Developmental Disabilities Month, to honor the many partners we have in the community. There are so many people, agencies, businesses and government offices we interact with. Without them, we could not do the work we do for individuals with disabilities.

This year, 100 people attended the luncheon, and Rev. Terri Haithcock gave the invocation. Our Superintendent, Theresa Schnipke, gave an overview of 2017. Then we featured three partnership success stories of this past year, recognized three heroes of this past year, and handed out several awards. Read about all our winners, heroes, and featured success stories below!

2018 Partnership Awards

The John Wilt “I Love My Community” Award

This award is named in honor of John Wilt, a kind, friendly gentleman who was very involved in his community. And he never knew a stranger!

Choosing the 2018 winner was an easy choice, because Kenny Warnecke was to Spencerville what John Wilt was to Lima. Sadly though, Kenny passed away suddenly in May 2017, before we could honor him. His brother, Jim, accepted on his behalf. It it not an exaggeration to say that everyone in Spencerville knew who Kenny was – if not by name then by involvement. Every Sunday, he opened up St. Patrick Catholic Church, where he served as an usher. He was a member of the Catholic Order of Foresters, Landeck Court #76 and the Spencerville Community Samaritans. He could be found at all of the Spencerville home football and basketball games. He was an avid Bearcat fan. Kenny was a member and past President of the Spencerville Lions Club and its cheer club. He always volunteered at community events and he served regularly at the food pantry. Kenny liked spending time with family on the farm and helping other farmers; all of the farmers in the area knew Kenny. In his free time, Kenny rode his bike around town and collected cans for recycling. Kenny’s passing left a hole in the Spencerville community. He loved his community and they loved him!

Partner in Our Community

Our Partner in the Community is Morgan Rigali of NOW Marketing Group. Morgan is a brand manager for NOW and is assigned to our Public Relations Committee. She holds true NOW’s philosophy on relationship marketing. Morgan has a contagious smile and enthusiasm for life that radiates in her work and the care she has for her customers. It is nothing to find her texting or emailing an idea in the evening or on a weekend. Morgan needed no introduction to the concepts we hold dear, such as person-centered language or community inclusion, because she truly believes in the mission of the board and perfectly reflects that in the work she does with us. Morgan also gives countless hours to our causes, including volunteering in our FANS program by helping a young lady learn to sew.

Partner in Employment

The 2018 Partner in Employment is ServiceMaster. This past year, ServiceMaster partnered with our agency to hire eight individuals with developmental disabilities. Each person was given a starting wage at or above minimum wage, commensurate to experience. Two of the eight are no longer employed; however, through the challenges, ServiceMaster did all they could to carve out positions for the individuals seeking employment. At one staff meeting, the manager introduced an individual to the group as the newest member of the “ServiceMaster family.” This made the man beam with pride, and he is enjoying much success in his first community job. Additionally, ServiceMaster shows a video at meetings that focuses on diversity and the ability of everyone to make a difference. We are happy to present this award to ServiceMaster for embracing the ‘Employment First’ concept for individuals with developmental disabilities. They are an exceptional example of an employer who is committed to seeing the ability in all people, as well as the valuable part those with disabilities can play in our local workforce.

Partner in Education

The Spencerville Local School District is our 2018 Partner in Education. This award could not be given to just one person; the entire district, administration, teaching staff, therapists, and students should all be commended for being part of the excellent special education services in 2017. Spencerville Schools worked closely with the board in transitioning a young man with multiple needs back to his home school district. The therapist and teaching staff communicated well throughout the transition. When there was a need identified, such as a changing table or Hoyer lift, the team worked together to make sure Spencerville had what they needed for the student’s care needs. Our student was introduced to a new, welcoming school environment where all children are included. Additionally, our Early Intervention staff report that when children turn three and transition back to Spencerville Local Schools for preschool services, there is great communication to make the transition as seamless as possible.

Partner in Advocacy

The 2018 Partner in Advocacy is Mary Sreenan. Mary has been involved in the “Kids on the Block” Disability Awareness program since its early days in Allen County. She assisted with the transition of the program to the board in 2008 and then decided to stay on as a presenter with our agency. She is now fondly known as a “Puppeteer Extraordinaire” by our agency staff. Mary cheerfully responds to assist in the productions whenever a plea for volunteers is sent out. Mary’s years of experience and gentle nature make her a fantastic presenter. She has a vast knowledge and communicates with the students as they ask personal and direct questions of the puppets. She is a great advocate and shares how kids with disabilities are kids first; they want to play and have friends too.

Partner in Service Provision

The 2018 Partner in Service Provision is Jennifer Gast of RMS of Ohio. Jennifer has been in the field of developmental disabilities since 2000 and with RMS of Ohio since 2003. Jennifer has created multiple opportunities for individuals with disabilities in Lima/Allen County since RMS started offering Day and Transportation services, in addition to the residential services they already provided. RMS now has three locations in Lima with many individuals choosing to spend their day at one of the RMS locations. In addition, Jennifer has been the coordinator and leader for the Provider Group that meets monthly in Allen County. She takes the responsibility to send out reminders, prepare agendas, coordinate speakers, and even type the minutes. Jennifer is knowledgeable on changes within the system and works to incorporate new ways of thinking into her agency services. Jennifer is also generous, donating much needed items to the FANS Network to support people with disabilities, regardless of whether they are served by RMS of Ohio.

President’s Award

The President’s Award was presented to Sgt. Paula Strickler. Sgt. Strickler has played an instrumental role in investigating and preparing cases for prosecution of crimes against persons with disabilities in Allen County for many years. Sgt. Strickler has been an integral member in the Building Partnerships Initiative (a multi-agency disciplinary team for the protection of persons with disabilities) since its inception in 2008. Sgt. Strickler traveled to Boston with the team in 2009 for training on engaging the entire community in the need to recognize and report crimes against persons with disabilities. Sgt. Strickler is also involved with many other teams throughout Lima/Allen County that involve victims who need special advocacy.

Sgt. Strickler takes the extra time needed for special investigations, showing great sensitivity and patience. She has extensive knowledge of how the DD system works, and the extreme vulnerability of individuals with disabilities.

Sgt. Strickler has ensured that the Crisis Intervention Training presented to Law Enforcement officers involves information on communication techniques and de-escalation of situations involving individuals with disabilities. She works closely with ACBDD investigators, communicating well at all levels. When situations are extra tough, Sgt. Strickler has been known to go on home visits to speak directly to victims of crime who have disabilities, instead of speaking at the Police Department where they may be uncomfortable. She always treats others with great respect.

Sgt. Strickler has worked at the Lima Police Department since 1985 and will be retiring in May 2018. Her presence in the community and her professional wisdom will be missed greatly by all who came into contact with her.

“Where Partnership Shines” Success Stories

Jada is a 19-month old little girl who receives our Early Intervention Services. Her smile can light up a room. Jada’s parents both work at Lima City Schools. Jada was born with Down Syndrome, and her parents are her biggest advocates. Shortly after her birth, Jada’s parents, along with Lima Senior’s DECA group, created an outreach titled “Jada’s Joy” to reach new parents in Allen County who have a child born with Down Syndrome. A care package is provided to the family, which includes lotion for mom, books of encouragement for parents, links to local groups, Facebook blogs, small toys and adaptive spoons for the baby. Jada has brought pure joy to her parents and her big sister. Through her family, parents in Allen County are able to receive a part of that joy.

Ryan is in third grade. He is good natured, happy and laid back. He loves music and laughing with his classmates. At home Ryan has a loving mother, father, and big brother. Ryan does have some challenges, and he depends on his family and school staff for his daily needs. He is also nonverbal.

We’ve served Ryan and his family since 2009. Earlier this fall, Ryan transitioned from Marimor School back to his local school district. Moving to a new school can be stressful for any child, but especially so when that child is unable to communicate.

Ryan’s parents met with the Spencerville School staff. Knowing Ryan’s physical needs and how to care for Ryan were the most important factors. Ryan’s therapists, teachers, and the school administration joined together to make sure the transition went as smooth as possible for Ryan and his family. Ryan’s new teacher, Katie Oen, even arranged for two Kids on the Block performances for the entire third grade at Spencerville. Ryan was introduced, ensuring a welcoming school environment where all children are included. Thanks to all of these people, Ryan is thriving and doing well.

Michelle began working at Fat Jack’s pizza in February 2017. When she decided to pursue a job in the community, she first talked with her Service and Support Associate. She then started receiving vocational counseling and guidance through Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities. When she accepted her job at Fat Jack’s, Michelle transitioned to a new schedule and work environment, with increased independence. In addition to her community job, Michelle works at Marimor Industries. She is also involved in many community activities, and she love to stay busy. She’s involved with Special Olympics swimming, basketball, track, and bowling. She’s in the Aktion Club, Venture Crew, Social Living Club at Bittersweet, Project STIR’s Just Do It Crew, and the FANS Give Back Crew. Michelle is also a dedicated member of her church, St. Stephen’s Orthodox Church. She loves to travel and plans to visit New York City this summer!

Michelle’s determination and motivation to achieve her goal of community employment has inspired others to do the same. She is an exceptional example of someone who is an engaged and active member of her community.

Hero Recognition

Nelidjah Bailey is employed by Benchmark Human Services as a Direct Support Professional. Nelidjah was working in a home in the community when an individual was found unresponsive due to a medical condition and required the use of CPR. Nelidjah stepped up and used her CPR training to save this person’s life.

Robert Foreman is a Program Manager at Bittersweet Farms @ Betty’s Farm in Lima. Robert noticed that an individual was in distress during a program activity and had stopped breathing. Robert performed CPR until emergency personnel arrived, which resulted in this person’s life being saved.

Bryan Driver is an individual we serve. Bryan was being transported by a community placement driver when the driver began experiencing a medical emergency and had to pull over. He was unable to call for emergency medical assistance, so Bryan assisted him in doing this and stayed with him until emergency medical help arrived.


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